Want to get away but to a more secluded escape away from the madding crowd? Take your loved ones and hide away at Pebbly Beach Escape on the NSW South Coast where your only interactions are likely to be with kangaroos on the beach.
Mr NQN and I drive down Mount Agony Road that is closed due to the January bushfires that seem so long ago because of everything that has happened in 2020. While there are so many blackened tree trunks there is green foliage wrapped around them.
At 4:30pm I fret that we will be too late to get good photos of the property but as we drive along the sunshine bursts through the trees making them appear as though they're dabbed in gold leaf. A few minutes later we arrive at Pebbly Beach Escape where there are eight self contained cabins to choose from on the three acre property.
Pebbly Beach Escape is located in Murramarang National Park where there's very little interaction with staff, if any. COVID-19 has meant that the staff who would usually be on hand are no longer there and you check yourself in and get to know the place yourself. The emphasis here is on seclusion and a true escape unfettered with distractions.
Our cabin Waru is a studio cabin and is one of the three cabins alongside Pebbly Beach. The cabins range from studios to 2 and 3 bedroom cabins. All are in hot demand and you'd be lucky to get any of these given how booked ahead they are. It is full house tonight and the lights on in each cabin in the evening confirm this but we don't see another soul during our two night stay.
There's a high day bed on the private deck as well as chairs facing the beach. There's a clear plan here: do nothing but enjoy that view. Even the king bed is designed to be high so that you simply turn to one side when you're in bed and watch the waves rolling in and that's the only sound you're likely to hear.
The Waru cabin opens up to the main room with the lounge area and bed. Tall wooden benches and bar stools face the view. Wooden finishes are abundant in the cabins.
There is a heater and a fan as well as a working kitchen with oven and full sized fridge. The bathroom is enormous with a Moroccan tiled floor and a large shower. There are also basic toiletries by Australian brand Leif.
Activity wise, there is bush walking or during warmer months surf or SUP. If going slow is more your thing bring a book and relax and do nothing. There is no television and internet doesn't stretch as far as our cabin so bring entertainment along.
Breakfast provisions are provided upon request and are along the lines of bacon, eggs, sourdough, muesli, berries yogurt and avocado although there are no drinks provided nor milk for tea or coffee and a pre departure letter explains where to buy supplies from. The coffee machine has pods provided and there is tea and sugar and oil, salt and pepper for cooking but anything else needs to be brought along.
Robes and slippers would be nice for winter (this does seem more like a spot for summer) so bring these along if you need these comforts. There is also no daily housekeeping service.
I park myself on one of the wooden stools and watch the waves outside and then we go for a walk and see a lone kangaroo on the beach. It twitches and then stills and regards us playing dare until we both look away. He stays and we leave because it is his beach. The sky is ombre shades of pink and blue, as though a filter were applied to it.
Dinner this evening is at The Sandbar located in the Quays Motel. We walk around the building trying to locate the entrance. It's up the stairs and there's a small, darkly lit door that requests guests ring the doorbell.
The door swings open and a staff member greets us with a broad smile and ushers us into a waiting room where diners can enjoy a drink or wait for fellow party guests before being led into the main dining room.
On Wednesdays to Saturdays there is a 5 course degustation menu only. There are three savoury courses, a dessert course and a cheese course. This is Chef David Tinker's first restaurant.
Each course is described by the ingredients. This first course is raw scallops with sansho pepper, purple daikon, celeriac, pear, strawberry tomato dashi, geraldton wax and basil. The scallops have a nice texture to them and it's a little jammy from the strawberry and tomato dashi.
Yellow Fin Tuna
The yellow fin tuna tartare is bordered at each side with grilled fuyu persimmon. There's also additional fruity citrus flavours from confit yuzu and the blood orange pickled pumpkin as well as flavours from fennel walnut oil and shiso. To me this has a lot of fruit going on and the double use of both yuzu and blood orange dominates over the tuna. I give Mr NQN the pumpkin and enjoy the tuna with the persimmon.
This is my favourite savoury course. The pork loin is stuffed with amaretto farce. On top of this is a disc of golden beetroot with smoked trout crumbs. There's a baby kohlrabi on the side and on top of it all is dehydrated cavalo nero. The sauce is a sage beurre noisette with a Jerusalem artichoke and apple veloute. There's a lot going on but all in perfect harmony and holding it all together is that succulent pork loin. I would have eaten it all over again if I could.
I also adore the fresh roasted marshmallow filled with a matcha ganache with cocoa nibs, cassis bitter chocolate, caramel crumble, quince, raspberry, Cointreau and lemon balm. While the accompaniments are nice I only have eyes for that delightful matcha ganache marshmallow with the caramel crumble. Mr NQN gives me his.
Truffled Brie Toast
"This is my favourite cheese course ever," says Mr NQN and I'm inclined to agree. It's a thin slice of sourdough toast with truffled brie underneath, confit orange, mascarpone and a 24 month Comte cheese shaved on top. To finish it off are dots of port reduction, honey, thyme and red vein sorrel. After my first bite I take tiny bites of this as I don't want this course to end, much like the pork and marshmallow courses preceding it.
The next morning we wake at 9am and Mr NQN downs a breakfast of yogurt, muesli and fruit before going for some morning SUP. He returns a couple of hours later excitement shining his eyes. The water is startlingly clear and there was a pod of dolphins swimming close by.
It's time to explore the South Coast a bit more so we head out for some breakfast. Our first stop is the town of Kioloa to stop at Saltwood Cafe & Lifestyle, a café and homewares store.
It's a very popular spot to stop by. We take a seat in the outdoor area and sip on chai latte. I do a bit of browsing in the store and end up buying a beanie to keep warm.
It's then onto our next stop where we follow the map down a dirt road towards Milk Haus in Woodstock. Milk Haus is a café in a former cheese factory. With COVID-19 restrictions, diners do need to book as they take new customers every hour.
The menu at Milk Haus changes monthly and you order and pay at the counter. While waiting there is a range of items for sale from local produce and cordials to cookbooks.
The emphasis here is on wholesome wholefoods to nourish and is like high quality home cooking. The lunch menu kicks in at 12pm on the dot so arrange your visit according to whether you want something breakfasty or lunchy.
Vanilla Milk Shake $ 4.50 and Armenian Nutmeg Cake $7
Th vanilla milk shake is creamy and perfectly sweet and goes well with the aromatic Armenian Nutmeg cake that is served warm with a choice of spiced yogurt or double cream.
Pot of brewed sticky "real chai" $6.50
I have a pot of brewed sticky "real chai" and it's lightly spiced and fragrant with honey. I like a bit more aroma to the chai spices.
Beetroot Curry $20
The beetroot curry features grated beetroot with a topping of spiced white cheese with wilted winter greens and a tub of garlicky brown rice on the side. It's wholesome and tasty.
Mushroom, Goat's cheese and Chestnut Galette $21
The galette is filled with plenty of mushrooms and dots of goat's cheese and comes with a parsley and almond sauce and dressed garden leaves.
Italian Apple and Lemon Polenta Cake $7
And just because I enjoy the cakes so much we can't help but try the Italian Apple and Lemon Polenta Cake with double cream. It's wonderfully fresh and moreish with a pronounced lemony flavour to it. And while the spiced yogurt is nice, it really shines with the double cream.
If you're looking for another drive, head towards the town of Bodalla and stop by the Bodalla Dairy Shed. For the time being during COVID-19 they've had to suspend their kitchen and they are now concentrating on making their own milk, cheese and ice creams.
The cheese and ice cream are well worth the drive for especially for their Australian flavours that are wonderful and yet unlike any other commercial ice cream. The numerous awards that they've won so far attest to it. The most striking is the "Let's Go Camping" which is naturally smoked using gum leaf and macadamia praline and is sophisticated and modern. It tastes like it belongs in a fine dining restaurant.
The Kakadu Plum N Rum hit all the tart and creamy notes for me and is one of my favourites. The Go Wild is made with lemon myrtle at perfect pitch while the Billy Tea and like a cousin to an Earl Grey ice cream.
To make the ice cream they first milk the cows, pasteurising the raw milk with raw sugar and lots of cream. It rests for a day in the cool room before the flavours are added and then it is rested again overnight to infuse. The third day is when blending, sieving and churning takes place. What results is a flavour that is bold and confident and doesn't hold back and yet is never excessive. There are also flavours like "Bush Tucker" with chocolate coated Witchetty grubs in a wattle seed ice cream
Cheese-wise you're best off buying a selection as they're all delicious (the Tasmanian Pepper Berry is my favourite) and make for a marvellous and fancy cheese toastie or on a cheese platter with crackers. We enjoy these back at Pebbly Beach Escape.
We sit on the verandah, legs wrapped in the wooly blanket eating the ice cream and cheese and staring out at the view. The light that I was convinced was a one off occurrence is back this evening fanning out beautiful shades of pinks and blues. It wasn't just a fluke.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like the idea of seeing no other people when you go away? Have you been away yet since COVID-19?
Pebbly Beach Escape
Lot 115 Pebbly Beach Access Rd, Pebbly Beach NSW 2536
60-64 Beach Rd, Batemans Bay NSW 2536
Wednesday to Friday 7–9am, 6–8:30pm
Saturday 8–9:30am, 6–8:30pm
Phone: 0418 411 940
636 Murramarang Rd, Kioloa NSW 2539
Open 7 days 8am–8pm
Phone: (02) 4457 2944
170 Woodstock Rd, Woodstock NSW 2538
Thursday to Monday 9am–2pm
Tuesday & Wednesday closed
Phone: (02) 4455 7293
Bodalla Dairy Shed
52 Princes Hwy, Bodalla NSW 2545
Open 7 days 9am–5pm
Phone: (02) 4473 5555